Inverness, FL — Former Deputy Heather Cogar’s lawyer, Jay P. Lechner, Esq. of the WHITTEL & MELTON law firm, sent a letter to Sheriff Prendergast today outlining Ms. Cogar’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Charge of Discrimination against the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) submitted on March 6, 2017. In this letter, Sheriff Prendergast, Commander Buddy Grant, Captain Brad Smith, and Detective Bryan Hesse are accused by Cogar’s attorney of engaging in “a pattern of ongoing unlawful actions against Ms. Cogar, including but not limited to malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, defamation, perjury, hostile work environment and a pattern of gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Florida Civil Rights Act.”
The letter also claims that Ms. Cogar was falsely arrested and jailed without probable cause and without having her Miranda rights read; a false arrest that was based upon “false testimony against her under oath, a felony under Florida law.”
Mr. Lechner continues by stating that the Prendergast administration “has refused to properly admonish or investigate the male officers for their roles in pursuing false claims against Ms. Cogar and perjuring themselves. For example, questions concerning the actions of the alleged victim, Mr. Hesse, at the time of the incident have been raised, suggesting unfitness for duty. Remarkably, you have not disciplined any of these male employees in any way for providing false testimony or for the perjury they committed.”
Recently, Prosecutor Richard Lehman of the State Attorney’s Office filed an announcement of no information because there was “evidence legally insufficient to prove” Cogar guilty of the domestic battery charge from Dec. 10, 2016. When the Standard questioned the sheriff’s office as to whether former deputy Cogar would be offered a full reinstatement, Heather Yates stated that she would not be reinstated.
“The State Attorney’s determination in this matter does not alter my decision on previously sustained violations for Violation of SOP 108.00; Improper Conduct, Conduct Unbecoming,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “It is in the best interest of this agency to allow Heather Cogar to continue her training as a Communications Officer while getting the help she needs to be successful here in our organization and in life.”
The letter sent to CCSO today concludes that Ms. Cogar intends to pursue all administrative and legal remedies available to her under the law, including but not limited to, a formal Charge of Discrimination filed with both the EEOC and Florida Commission on Human Relations and a civil lawsuit against the CCSO (and the individual perpetrators of Sheriff Prendergast, Commander Buddy Grant, Captain Brad Smith, and Detective Bryan Hesse).
The Standard will continue to monitor these developments as they take place. The cover letter to Sheriff Prendergast, the formal Charge of Discrimination, and Detective Bryan Hesse’s December 10th 911 call can all be seen and heard by clicking on the blue link provided above. If you like local, investigative reporting please like the Suncoast Standard page and share this article on your social media page.
Submitted by: Lou Newman, CEO/Publisher of the Suncoast Standard (c) Apr. 7, 2017
Last Updated at: 7:29 PM EST on Apr. 10, 2017